A new report outlines how employers across the country are gaming today’s broken immigration system to exploit immigrant workers and evade both labor and immigration laws. The report by the National Employment Law Project (NELP) uses two dozen case studies—including the recent action at Palermo’s Pizza—as examples of employers’ use of immigration enforcement or the threat of it to retaliate against workers who seek their basic workplace rights.
Dr. Steven Pitts
August 28 of this year marks the 50th anniversary of the famous March on Washington. For many people, the March was simply the site where Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. However, the full name of the march was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and the march marked a high point of the modern Civil Rights Movement, after Black communities and their supporters throughout the country boycotted buses, sat-in at lunch counters, rode in Freedom Rides, and marched in the streets. These massive protests were aimed at destroying, once and for all, the era of legal segregation — which was a blot on this country since the end of slavery.
“Democracy cannot function unless all men and women, regardless of their skin color or where they were born, can participate meaningfully in the political process with full rights and equal protections.”
That’s the message that the San Francisco Labor Council proclaimed last month when they passed a resolution in support of a “Roadmap to Citizenship” for aspiring Americans. Now, the 100,000 working families that the San Francisco Labor Council represents are joining that commitment to equality by working with community partners—including civil rights, human rights and immigrant rights organizations—to promote citizenship for 11 million immigrant aspiring citizens.
On Thursday, February 14th, 68 employees of VWR in Visalia voted affirmatively to join Teamsters Local 948 in an election supervised by the National Labor Relations Board. The election punctuates a very high profile and controversial move by the company from the Bay Area to Visalia and continues the Teamsters struggle with the company.
VWR, which was founded as a local California company, has grown into a global corporation, reporting more than $4.1 billion in sales for 2011. The Teamsters have represented VWR employees at their distribution center in Brisbane for over 50 years. For most of that time, labor-management relations were good. But when Madison Dearborn, a Chicago-based private equity firm, bought the company in 2007 things quickly changed.
It’s been a good start to the year for California. We lead the nation in job creation. Our budget is balanced. Unemployment is dropping. Prop 30 stopped devastating cuts to our schools. While we still have a lot of work to dig out from the recession caused by Wall St. greed and excess, there’s no question that California is enjoying a major comeback.
But the California comeback could be short-lived if Republicans in Washington, D.C. continue this insane game they are playing with the so-called “sequestration” cuts. These automatic spending cuts would sap $500 million in federal funding from California putting priorities like education, health care and public safety at risk. The cuts could cost California 225,000 jobs.
Linda Nguyen-Perez and Michelle Knapik
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (aka L.A. Metro) needed new, clean buses. If L.A. Metro had simply followed current buying protocol, its single focus would have been on finding a company to deliver the lowest-cost buses. In all likelihood, this would have resulted in jobs going overseas (but for some final assembly jobs on U.S. soil).
Instead, in January, L.A. Metro awarded a $305-million contract for 550 clean-fuel buses to New Flyer Industries, a Canadian company with dedicated manufacturing plants in the U.S. The bus order means that the company will expand its factory operations in St. Cloud, Minn., add a third shift, hire 150 women and men from the local community and create another 50 jobs in Los Angeles
As we settle further into Black History Month, it’s the perfect time to reflect on Martin Luther King Jr. and his often under-acknowledged passion for economic justice. King stands as a pillar of civil rights leadership and the movement for equal rights. His legacy is special to the black community, and as a symbol, he has become an extraordinary role model to all people. However, to see King’s legacy only through this lens would miss much of his work. King was also a union ally and champion of economic justice.
For the thousands of international students and researchers who come to US universities each year, the academy is seen as a beacon of opportunity, where the people who work the hardest and the best ideas rise to the top.
As a union representing more than 6,000 postdoctoral scholars (also known as “postdocs”) at the University of California, this promise means something – the majority of our members are immigrants working in the US on guest worker visas, and they are here because they have worked for years to reach the forefront of biology, physics, engineering and other fields. They have already earned PhDs, and come to UC to perform cutting-edge research – think breakthrough cancer therapies, new models for the origin of the universe, stem cell research and more.
In his State of the Union Address this month, President Obama called for a much- needed increase to the federal minimum wage. Almost four million American workers are paid at or below the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour for their work, adding up to about $15,000 per year, per person for a full-time, 40 hour per week job. This doesn’t come close to covering the cost of living for a single person, let alone a family.
For three years, we’ve been looking forward to the day we could make this announcement: Castlewood workers have won their struggle for justice!
On February 13, the workers approved a great new contract that provides job security, affordable family health care, raises, and a substantial signing bonus.
“So many people told us that dishwashers and waitresses couldn’t win against a luxury golf club,” said server Jeanette Cardenas. “But we’ve learned that it doesn’t matter who you are, if you stay strong and you’re on the side of justice.”